Potter’ movie-goers better be reading

Matt Sussman and Matt Sussman

Two weekends ago marked the premiere of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (pronounced “AS-kuh-BAN”). It raked in $93 million, making it a bigger opening weekend than “The Passion of the Christ” (pronounced “its-TUFF-bee-yin-uh-JOO”).

Several Pottermaniacs have claimed that the movie does not stay true to the book, because director Alfonso Cuaron chose not to make the movie 17 hours long. The British and American governments would have intervened, but when they found out that most of the complainers were not of voting age they decided to instead bomb Iraq again.

The teenagers are right, for once. While the movie is fun and thrilling, much of the plot in the third book (and even one entire subplot) was not in the movie, for length reasons. Several plot explanations were cut short and they left the non-book audience scratching their heads.

I don’t blame the movie. I blame the audience that didn’t read the book.

Now, those who know me best will tell you I’m a very nice person, and I don’t often take shots at people. Having said that, people who don’t read the Harry Potter books and instead watch the movies are a few thumb sucks shy of being fully certified big babies.

It’s ironic how the vaunted children’s book series is only being unread by those with an immature stance on reading.

The amount of pages in these books can seem overwhelming. “Prisoner of Azkaban” is 435 pages. The fourth book, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” is 752 pages, and the fifth installment, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” tips the scales at 870 sheets. Yowzah.

Now, there are two universal whines against reading — the high school whine and the college whine.

The high school whine says that “reading is boring.” I can’t argue with that, provided we’re talking about Charles Dickens novels. A lot of people don’t know this, but “A Tale of Two Cities” was once used as a cheap alternative to sleeping pills. It was also safer than being knocked unconscious with a sledgehammer to the noggin.

The college whine, which is applicable to nearly every situation, is nothing more than those three little words every young scholar uses as a last defense — “I’m too busy.”

First of all, this is one of the greatest arguments ever invented. What’s the other person supposed to say — “no, you’re not?” How do they know? Are they following you around? Will they jump out from behind the couch and catch you watching “WB Superstars?” instead of writing that sociology paper?

If we string the two whines together, it’s pretty air-tight for college-aged students. “Books are boring. Besides, I’m too busy.”

Well, you uncultured lunkheads, maybe I think you’re boring, and you don’t seem too busy to suck that little pacifier all day.

Our cynical (yet captivatingly handsome) opinion editor hates reading. However, he told me that the Harry Potter novels are unlike any other books that I’ve — pardon me, “he’s” — read. The pages fly by faster than a heroin addict being chased by the police. The plot, while simple, is surprisingly engaging for a series of books geared towards a younger audience.

If you’ve seen the third movie, you will agree that these are by no means children’s books. Kids books are about happy feelings, tooth fairies and non-threatening monsters that know how to do long division. In the fourth book, author J. K. Rowling kills off one of the characters. In the fifth installment, one of the major characters gets offed.

“Harry heard a knock on the door. He knew it was Tony Soprano — he had come back for his part of the bargain. He quickly put on his invisibility cloak for fear of having his knees broken by the dreaded Don Corleone Every-Flavored Crowbar.”

For children only? Far from it.

Rowling somehow mastered the novel to make it palatable for Muggles of all ages. The climaxes of the three most recent books were — brace yourself — exciting, especially in print.

Do you really want to wait until next year to see what happens in “Goblet of Fire?” ‘Til 2007 to witness the excitement of “Order of the Phoenix?” If you liked it so much, why are you waiting so long for the releases?

So turn off that reality-based television show that you wanted to see this summer. Whichever one it is, it sucks. Don’t watch it before you get addicted to it.

Get addicted to Harry Potter instead. C’mon, I dare ya’.

Ya’ big baby.

E-mail Matt with comments at [email protected].